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Defending Against Hearing Loss Among Marching Band Participants

Close to 6 million U.S. teens have some type of hearing loss, which signifies an increase of about 33 % over the past 2 decades. In addition to the use of high-volume MP3 players and cell phones, experts say that teenagers’ involvement in marching band is another possible cause of damage to hearing. As nearly every urban high school and university has a marching band, participation is a very common activity among teens.

Teenagers and extreme sounds. Volume, or noise level, is measured in decibels (dB). Adults and children can suffer hearing loss from exposure to sounds over 85 dB. Marching band includes a variety of instruments, some of which easily cross over that threshold during rehearsals and performances. An experiment at Duke University showed that a drumline rehearsal exposed students to decibel levels of 99 over a 30-minute period. However, playing those instruments indoors for rehearsals can be even more harmful to teens’ hearing. Unfortunately, many youths don’t reduce the volume of their instruments when playing inside.

Prevention and protection strategies. Musicians earplugs are effective at reducing the sound levels that reach the inner ear. Musicians earplugs are custom-designed to fit an individual’s ear perfectly. Musicians earplugs can be expensive, which may be a problem for parents. Another effective strategy for protecting young people’s hearing is to reduce the length of time they are exposed to potentially harmful sound levels by breaking up the rehearsals into shorter sessions. Band leaders and participants also need to be aware of how important it is to lower the volume of their instruments when practicing indoors. Parents, teens, and band leaders should work together to increase awareness and to implement strategies for protecting the hearing of marching band members.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 at 12:16 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.